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Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Guys to Keep an Eye on Next Month

Well, the Cleveland Browns are not full of Joe Thomases and Joel Bitionios – therefore several positions are up for grabs as the team gets back on the field in Berea in July.  Outside of the obvious (and annual) quarterback derby that has already been underway, there are a few key spots where one guy who can separate himself from the rest of the pack.  Let’s look further into those position groups.

Right Tackle

It appears that Shon Coleman will have the first crack at the starting lineup for the orange and brown.  He is big, mean, and has a solid track record in college; however the second-year athlete has yet to prove he can make it work (consistently) in the NFL.  I have faith that coach Bob Wylie will work his “magic” (pun intended) with the former Auburn star.  Meanwhile Spencer Drango and Cameron Erving are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I have mixed feelings about Erving, who has been rather underwhelming since joining the team.  Drango had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but getting another training camp under his belt should help his progress.

Tight End

The release of veteran Gary Barnidge opens the door completely for a guy or two to secure the starting position.  The frontrunners are rookie David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who have been impressing the coaching staff up to this point.  Both are receiving threats but could use some work attempting to develop as a run blocker.  Randall Telfair and maybe a wildcard could earn some playing time; however, I would be surprised if the aforementioned duo does not get the lion’s share of snaps.  The question might be, can DeValve hold off the first round rookie?

Wide Receiver

Under the assumption that Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt remain healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Browns will have their top two wide out options.  That still leaves another athlete or two who the team will be counting on to haul in passes for the franchise.  Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Rannell Hall are three options to fill a void that was missing in 2016.  Like some of the tight ends, a young athlete (Louis) has been garnering solid reviews from his supervisors.  However, I am intrigued to see how Hall bounces back from a promising 2016 exhibition season prior to missing the entire year due to a broken leg.

Conclusion:  There is a long way to go until the regular season kicks off in just over two months.  However, the roster must be settled prior to that point in time.  This would include several competitions at position groups, hopefully with the best man winning the gig.  I would like to believe that these include guys who can play in the NFL and not roles just needing to be filled.

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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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More Games, More Problems

More Games, More Problems

Looking Back at the Browns’ Loss 

It was yet another defeat for the Browns, and the starting quarterback left the game – go figure! This miserable season is not even halfway over and it’s felt like three years since the Browns won their last contest. What should the supporters of the orange and brown think about after this contest?

#1 – Their Run Defense is a Work in Progress 

For a majority of the contest, the defensive front won at the point of attack for the Cleveland Browns. However, Jeremy Hill took advantage of an off-tackle carry (with two guys pulling his way) for a long touchdown. He also tallied a touchdown later in the contest. I applaud how the run defense works hard but they are still surrendering a big play or two. Obviously they are not there but hopefully that can change in the near future.

#2 – These Quarterback Injuries Must Stop 

I’m getting sick and tired of a Browns’ quarterback lying on the field and then being helped to the locker room. Whether it is dirty play by the opposing defense or a porous offensive line, this lack of protection for the guy under center has got to come to an end. I loved seeing Kevin Hogan run the read option well (for the most part), but the Browns will have no shot to win with him as quarterback.

#3 – Some are Improving

I am primarily referring to Emmanuel Ogbah, who notched two sacks on the afternoon. While some were ready do write off the rookie, he has steadily getting better on the field. If Carl Nassib can improve as well (I will cut him some slack due to the hand injury), then the Browns might have the makings of a solid pass rush in 2017.

#4 – The Secondary is Helpless

As many of you are aware, I’ve all but written off the Browns’ secondary. They cannot cover opposing receiving threats and are not too helpful against the run. The Joe Haden absence surely does not help – but it’s not like anyone is standing out on the roster. Sweeping changes are likely (in the position group) this upcoming spring.

Conclusion: I’m frustrated, Jimmy Haslam is frustrated, Hue Jackson is frustrated…etc. Who knows when this team will get their first win of the season (I’m certain they will not go 0 – 16), but I would not be upset it was to happen next Sunday. The losing appears to taking it’s toll on the franchise, but the injuries are not allowing the Browns to even be competitive in games.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns vs. Bears – Preseason Breakdown

Browns vs. Bears – Preseason Breakdown

Peeking into Preseason Game #4 – Browns vs. Bears 

Once first cuts are completed in the near future, the remaining Browns face their annual rival in the preseason finale. As per usual, this contest holds little weight – in terms of the top portion of the lineup. This matchup will more than likely determine who will or won’t be on the opening day roster. Alas, let’s delve into this game.

Offense: 

Quarterback – This will be a tremendous opportunity to see how rookie Cody Kessler has progressed since the preseason opener in Green Bay. Outside of a touchdown toss on his first play (during that game), not much has gone right for the signal caller. Facing not so stellar competition, there’s a chance that he could succeed on Thursday night. Going through progressions and making the right decision are two things I want to see.

Running Back – The Browns have not featured their running attack these past four weeks, and rightly so as they want to limit possibilities for injuries. However, Hue Jackson will likely want to get out of this game as soon as possible and running out the clock might be a game strategy. Raheem Mostert and Terrell Watson should be in line to get a majority of touches; I hope to see one stick out and make the club as the team’s third running back (Mostert appears to have the advantage). 

Wide Receiver – Rashard Higgins had a tough outing in Tampa Bay, but I am still encouraged at what I have seen from him thus far. The rookie should see a great deal of opportunities in this contest – how he responds to last outing ought to be intriguing. I don’t believe Taylor Gabriel makes the final squad, as the veteran’s lack of size makes it extremely difficult to move the ball down the field. In his absence, Jordan Payton and Ricardo Louis could nab that roster spot.

Tight End – I thought Connor Hamlett took a step ahead last contest, and he has a pretty good shot at making the opening day roster. A few guys I would like to see in this matchup are E.J. Bibbs and Seth DeValve; as the Browns can do multiple things with these athletes. Will they keep both, cut both, or place them on the practice squad? I hope the decision is very difficult after both play well against the Bears. 

Offensive Line – The reserve offensive lineman has been underwhelming this exhibition season – exemplified by the fact that the team has had no offense once the starters depart the contest. Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman are two rookies I am eager to watch play; their roles with this franchise can vary greatly, so I want to see how they perform. Will John Greco be the lone backup center, or will the Browns keep another guy around? That might be answered during Thursday’s matchup.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Will the Browns ever be able to stop opposing teams from running the ball? That would be a welcomed sight, even if it occurred by reserve athletes. Nick Hayden and Jamie Meder are the two guys who I would like to see play – as each are fighting for playing time in the fall. Rookie Carl Nassib got the start on the edge last contest, but did not play as well as he did in the first two contests. Can he excel against reserve athletes? I need something positive for this position group, as it has been ugly up to this point. 

Linebacker – Speaking of which, the linebackers have not been exceptional during the preseason. Once again the rookies are the guys I would like to see (Dominique Alexander, Scooby Wright, and Joe Schobert) – as they can make their imprint with this defensive unit. I don’t anticipate on witnessing a tremendous amount of pass rushes by the team – even by Emmanuel Ogbah, so it will come down to neutralizing the play in the middle of the field (which has been evasive for the orange and brown). 

Secondary – I cannot believe the Browns could be worse in the secondary than they were in 2015, but it is shaping up to be that way so far. Undrafted Tracey Howard got his shot in Tampa and was torched by Mike Evans. Who will step up for this team; are Charles Gaines, Derrick Kindred, or Rahim Moore possibilities? I am pretty down on both the safeties and cornerbacks, but one solid outing mind change my attitude.

Conclusion: A fast game with good plays and no injuries are all I want to see for the orange and brown. The team desperately needs a win, as they are likely not going to witness a lot of them once the regular season begins. Nonetheless, I am very excited for the season to finally begin!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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2016 Training Camp: Competition Among Teammates – Offense

2016 Training Camp: Competition Among Teammates – Offense

Training Camp Battles: Offense

Well the calendar has flipped, and it is finally July – the same month that training camp starts for the Cleveland Browns!  Granted, it might not commence for several weeks – but it is never too soon to start looking at several position groups that need sorted out before the first regular season game in Philadelphia.  In the first of our two-part series, we take a look into the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback:  The most important position in football (and probably all of sports) is all but Robert Griffin’s to lose.  Though coach Jackson will not admit to it publicly, he will be the man under center to begin the regular season.  There have been conflicting media reports about Griffin play during minicamp, nonetheless training camp is his time to shine.  I would hope he can separate himself from Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler in these practice sessions.  Doing so would help give me a little bit more faith headed into the regular season campaign.  Cody’s time will come, but not in September 2016.

Right Tackle:  The departure of Mitchell Schwartz can either loom largely or not at all over the orange and brown this fall.  That is dependent on the play of his successor; which raises the question, whom will it be?  Alvin Bailey (a veteran) appears to have a leg up over rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman.  However, the youngsters might get their opportunity to unseat Bailey in the starting lineup. One thing is certain – protecting the quarterback and walling off defenders is vital for this offense to have any type of success.

Wide Receiver:  Well, someone’s got to catch the football for this offense.  Veterans Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel will get first crack at fitting into the starting roles – however, their final roster spot is still not guaranteed.  A pair of rookies might be out on the field to start game one – possibly Corey Coleman and Rashard Higgins. Terrelle Pryor has been getting praise from his offensive coaches; it will be very interesting to see where he ends up on the depth chart.

X-Factor:  This can go a myriad of ways.  The first is utilizing Duke Johnson as a slot receiver, while Isaiah Crowell is lined up at running back – giving defenses something to think about.  The second is the capability of Corey Coleman and what kind of spark he can provide to this offense.  Finally, rookie Seth DeValve is a large receiving option and could present mismatches on the field – especially when paired up with Gary Barnidge at tight end.  I am eager to see what Hue has up his sleeve for this offense.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Offseason, Players, Training Camp

 

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